Beware of COVID-19 Stimulus Check Direct Deposit Scams

Beware of COVID-19 Stimulus Check Direct Deposit Scams

Below is a fraud alert from our partners at the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR).

There are phone, text and email scams currently targeting SSI (Supplemental Security Income) recipients to deprive them of their COVID-19 stimulus payment.

The call (or text or email) tells them that if they give them their bank account numbers, they’ll then have the stimulus check directly deposited. As soon as the money is directly deposited from the IRS, the scammers take the money. It is likely that the scammers are using the bank account information to apply for the payment on the IRS site, and then using the information to steal it as soon as it arrives.

The FBI, state Attorneys General and other agencies are alerting Americans that phone calls, texts or emails asking for personal or financial information to get the $1,200 federal payment are not legitimate. The Better Business Bureau has reported that the level of “stimulus scams” has gone through the roof.

From the Federal Trade Commission:

  1. The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.
  2. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.

If you spot one of these scams, please report them to the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov/complaint

(You can also report it to the California Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080.)

Please note that the IRS will almost never call you via phone (or send you a text or email) for official business. The IRS will always make several attempts to contact you via letter, and only then call via phone, in very specific circumstances. This is not one of those situations. You can read more about that here:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/how-to-know-its-really-the-irs-calling-or-knocking-on-your-door

If you do wish to receive your COVID-19 stimulus check via direct deposit to your bank account, the only safe method to do so is to apply on the official IRS website via this link:

https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

Stay safe and be extremely cautious of any communications from anyone claiming to be from the government and asking for banking information.

Karen Fletcher
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.

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